North Korean Nuclear Plant Alert Issued As ‘Signs Of Activities’ Detected, United Nations Warn
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The United Nations' atomic regulator has warned that North Korea appears to have renewed construction at its nuclear test site, as the isolated country continues to ramp up its controversial missile launches.
Speaking in Vienna on Monday, March 7, UN International Atomic Energy Agency director general Raphael Grossi claimed the watchdog had observed that North Korea appeared to be constructing an annex next to a suspected plutonium enrichment facility at the site in Yongbyon, north of the capital Pyongyang.
'We continue to observe construction activities at the Yongbyon site, including construction of an annex to the reported Centrifuge Enrichment Facility, the purpose of which has yet to be determined,' he said, per Reuters.
Grossi said it was possible the building was planned for the development of reactor components, and described North Korea's renewed activity around its nuclear test site as 'deeply regrettable'.
The news comes days after the country launched yet another missile test, which the state-run KCNA news channel claimed was part of plans to develop a new satellite.
It's the second such test North Korea has performed in the space of a week, leading to condemnation from international leaders who say the technology is largely the same as that used to develop ballistic missiles.
North Korea has previously attempted five satellite launches, two of which are believed to have been successful. In the wake of the last satellite launch in 2016, North Korean observers 38North said 'the obvious concern is that North Korea is testing ballistic missiles and only pretending to care about satellites'.
The most recent launch, which took place on Saturday, March 5, saw the rocket reach an altitude of 500km, travelling 300km before falling into the Sea of Japan, Japanese and South Korean defence officials told AFP.
Over the past year North Korea has renewed its missile development programme after a several-year pause, and in January conducted a record number of missile launches.
The activity has led some observers to warn that the country could resume nuclear testing or even launch its longest range inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM). The country has not tested either weapon since 2017.
The United States and other countries have condemned North Korea's activities, which they say are in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions that prohibit North Korea from carrying out any development of technology related to its ballistic missile or nuclear programs.
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